Jerry Kyckelhahn, is far from a life-long athlete. Compared to the athletes of today, Jerry got a delayed start into triathlon, a delay of about 50 years. His experiences and late entry into sports ultimately led to a Pan American Continental Master’s championship in track sprints and finally to a USAT long course triathlon national championship. But his focus has never been on winning but rather on participation and health and fitness. He has written many previous local and national articles most of which have addressed how to have fun in triathlon and biking.
A Crash Course in Turning on your Bike!
There are many bicyclists out there who struggle through turns - slowing unnecessarily and being uncomfortable. Learn how to turn properly when riding your bicycle.
By Jerry Kyckelhahn
Author of Chasing Caterpillars
So you went to the local high class bike store and plopped down a few grand for a new bike, a carbon steed that is capable of all of the power that you can generate. They fitted you, they clipped you, and they told you the names of the parts of the bike. They showed you how to shift the bike and, hopefully, how to brake the bike. And then you went on the road.
But then there is the secret the bike store did not show you – how to turn. In fact, in all of the time that I have spent training with new bikers, I have yet to find one that has been taught how to turn. As a result, there are many bicyclists out there who struggle through turns - slowing unnecessarily and being uncomfortable. This is not a sexist remark but most female bikers, and that is all age groups, have difficulty turning and frankly, there are few male bikers as well. As for triathletes, it is just a good thing that so many triathlon courses go in straight lines for the majority of the races.
Before I go into the “art of the turn” let me add that getting fit on the bike is only half of the fun that comes with cycling. The other part is learning the skills that are involved in being a good biker. While most triathletes spend many hours riding in straight lines and crunching their legs and bodies to capacity, few spend any time on the skill sets necessary to be great on the bike. Once you learn the art of the turn, it is a great idea to spend a lot of time working on developing the turn so that it becomes natural. Evenings riding around parking lots at closed shopping centers are a great way to develop the skills and those people with whom I have worked with have enjoyed the opportunity to spend a few minutes whenever possible just working on the skill sets.
How to turn when riding a bicycle! First, you must notice that there is little movement on the handlebar itself. The turn is actually accomplished by getting the proper weight distribution on the bike. Once this is mastered, the bike will carve the turn, similar to skiing. Here are the principles to carving the turn:
So, weight the outside leg and on the inside arm. There should be basically no weight on the outside arm.
That is it. Weight the outside leg and the inside arm. Put the inside knee into the top bar and slide slightly back on the seat. Tilt the head slightly to the outside. You will not need to slow through the turn; in fact with practice you will find that the turns are fast and stable.
Where do most cyclists go wrong on the turns? While usually riders will put the outside foot down (or else on hard and fast turns the inside pedal would hit the gound), they fail to put weight on it. And, few people will put weight on the inside arm. This leads to a bike that wants to go straight and as a result, there is a tendency to want to turn the bars. Just weighting the inside arm will force the bike into the turn. Finally, most people want to put the inside knee out instead of in. If you are doing a 180 degree turn on a two lane road this may be OK. For turns on most corners, it is inefficient and unbalanced. Try it with the inside knee in against the bar and I think you will be surprised.
Finally, on many turns you will want to pedal through the turn. That is good, but using the weight distribution principles explained here, even while pedaling, will make that turn happen more smoothly and in better balance.
Now go and do some skills training. Riding a bike is about fitness and skills!
About the book “Chasing Caterpillars”
The book, “Chasing Caterpillars”, speaks to those persons who are standing on the edge, thinking about doing a triathlon, or even training for one, but still hesitant to take the plunge. It is a light, fun and motivating book designed to entice newcomers or wannabe’s to go ahead and just do it. The book relates the life experience of the author with the adventures and misadventures that befall the new triathlete. It particularly relates to those of the over 50 age group that have serious doubts. Fear not-- so says the book!
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